September 6, 2009

Series by series: UW's defense against NIU

MADISON, Wis.- For three and a half quarters in Saturday's season opening win against Northern Illinois, the Wisconsin defense held the Huskies to a meager six points. However, a few defensive miscues and quick NIU scoring drives forced UW to buckle down for one final stop in the waning minutes.

The following is a series-by-series review of UW's defensive series:

First quarter:

Defensive series No. 1: Started on NIU 30 yard line following opening kickoff.
Plays: 6
Yards given up: 33
Result: 33-yard Josh Wilber punt.

Key play: The Huskies were in Badger territory following two Me'co Brown runs and an 11-yard Chandler Harnish pass to Landon Cox. However, with the Badger defense on its heels, Mike Taylor brought Brown down for a loss of four yards that derailed the NIU drive.

Defensive series No. 2: Started on NIU 20 yard line following kickoff. (7-0 Wisconsin)
Plays: 3
Yards given up: -3
Result: 47-yard Wilber punt.

Key play: On third and six, Blake Sorensen ripped through the line on a blitz and brought down Harnish for a seven-yard sack.

Defensive series No. 3: Started on NIU 38 yard line following missed Philip Welch field goal.
Plays: 5
Yards given up: 39
Result: 40-yard Mike Salerno field goal. (7-3 Wisconsin)

Key play: The Huskies were inside the Badger red zone when Chris Maragos brought down Harnish for a drive ending drive. With the sack, the Huskies were forced to settle for the field goal.

Second Quarter:

Defensive series No. 4: Started on NIU 29 yard line following kickoff. (14-3 Wisconsin)
Plays: 9
Yards given up: 59
Result: 29-yard Salerno field goal. (14-6 Wisconsin)

Key play: Jaevery McFadden seemed to have brought down NIU's Brown for a loss of five yards, but a obvious 15-yard facemask penalty from the Badger senior gave NIU a first down when the Badger defense could have gotten off the field.

Defensive series No. 5: Started on NIU 16 yard line following 21-yard Brad Nortman punt.
Plays: 1
Yards given up: 3
Result: UW forces turnover on strip.

Key play: Freshman Mike Taylor simply ripped the ball out of the hands of Brown. The play was originally ruled a turnover and after a review the play stood and UW took over in excellent field position.

Defensive series No. 6: Started on NIU 17 yard line following Scott Tolzien interception.
Plays: 5
Yards given up: 18
Result: 41-yard Wilber punt.

Key play: Yet again, the Badgers had an opportunity to get off the field, but a pass interference penalty on Aaron Henry denied that opportunity. The Huskies were given a first down, and while they were unable to capitalize on Henry's mistake, it is something UW cannot afford to do moving forward.

Defensive series No. 7: Started on NIU nine yard line following 45-yard Nortman punt.
Plays: 1
Yards given up:5
Result: End of Half

Third Quarter:

Defensive series No. 8: Started on NIU 29 yard line following kickoff. (21-6 Wisconsin)
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 8
Result: 30-yard Wilber punt.

Key play: It seemed Henry was going to be flagged for another pass interference on third down that would have consequently granted NIU a first down, but J.J. Watt tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage, nullifying the penalty.

Defensive series No. 9: Started on NIU 25 yard line following kickoff. (28-6 Wisconsin)
Plays: 4
Yards given up: 14
Result: 38-yard Wilber punt.

Key play: Harnish seemed to have moved the chains when he found Willie Clark open in the seam. However, after review, Clark trapped the ball and the play stood as originally called and NIU was forced to punt.

Fourth Quarter:

Defensive series No. 9: Started on NIU 24 yard line following missed Welch field goal.
Plays: 9
Yards given up: 76
Result: One-yard Chad Spann touchdown run. (28-12)

Key play: Kyle Skarb took Harnish's pass on the first play of the drive, juked Henry and rumbled for 31 yards to get his team in Badger territory. Eight plays later, the Huskies scored their first touchdown of the season.

Defensive series No. 10: Started on UW 31 yard line following Tolzien interception:
Plays: 10
Yards given up: 31
Result: Two-yard Spann touchdown run. Two point conversion good. (28-20 Wisconsin)

Key play: O'Brien Schofield destroyed Harnish on an option play and seemingly forced a fumble that he went on to recover. However, after an official blew the play dead, NIU kept possession of the ball.

Then, a couple of plays later, Antonio Fenelus was flagged for pass interference on a ball that seemed to be uncatchable. Nonetheless, NIU found the end zone and punched in the two-point conversion.

Defensive series No. 11: Started on NIU 44 yard line following recovered onside kick.
Yards given up: 20
Result: Turnover on downs.

Key play: On fourth and three from the Badger 36 yard line, Chris Maragos made the biggest play of his collegiate career to this point when he broke up the pass intended for Skarb.

Following the game, Maragos admitted that Skarb was supposed to be Jay Valai's man, but a check at the line switched that and Maragos completed the play and season the Badger win.

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